To mitigate the various challenges in the industry and attract investors, the National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria (NPPAN) has called on the federal government to establish the national oil palm development council.
The call was made by the national president of the association, Amb. Alphonsus Iyang, during the association’s annual general meeting on Saturday in Abuja.
Mr Iyang said that the council should regulate and set up guidelines for investment in the oil palm industry.
According to him, the absence of a regulatory council is a major impediment to the development of the oil palm industry.
Mr Iyang, who was reelected during the AGM, said the establishment of the council would make things easier for farmers, investors, firms and even the country.
In his words: “This council will be an enabler for the industry; it will also be the regulator and the ombudsman for the industry if things go wrong.
“Establishment of the council, with a board in place, will put an end to oil palm adulteration, which has been a major challenge in the country.
“We are civilians and an association; we cannot deal with oil palm adulteration without the help of the government,” he said.
The president, who frowned at the ranking of Nigeria as the number five oil palm-producing country in Africa from its number one position, said it was a challenge to reinvest in the industry.
He lamented the inadequate investment in the oil palm industry in Nigeria due to a lack of incentives and the fruit’s long gestation period.
“Many people in the country have money but have failed to invest in the oil palm industry because of the long gestation period.
“If the council is in place, it will bridge this gap and make incentives available for investors and others,” he said.
Mr Iyang identified other challenges bedevilling the industry, including lack of government interest and poor access to finances by smallholder farmers, among others.
The association elected new officials to pilot its affairs.
They include Harrison Ekpamen, Vice President South-South; Obadofin Ayotomiwa, North Central; Ogunremi Caesar, South-West; Dr Michael Drambi, North-East; and Dr Obiageri Onubogu, South-East.
Others are Babatola Joseph, general secretary; Joseph Lebee, assistant general secretary; Bobade Adebayo, treasurer; Ekanem Bernadette, public relations officer, and Azubuike Eghen, financial secretary, Jerry Dogonyaro, Adaugo Obi, and Atukpa Ibrahim as ex-officio members.